ZAMBIA: 2018 Hunt With Strang Middleton In 2 Different Areas Of The Country

cpr0312

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Finally catching up somewhat on work and getting to start this report! This will be in a few segments as I am still processing pics and going through my journal.

Well, Zambia and the Luangwa Valley was certainly a bucket list item for me, so I was really excited for many months leading up to wheels up! I had been kicking around Zimbabwe as well as Zambia late last year and early this year. I had all but ruled Zambia out when I met Strang Middleton at the AH Dinner during the 2018 DSC show. We sat at the same dinner table and I enjoyed hearing some of his stories. This prompted me to go speak with him at his booth the next day. Long story short, I walked away from there having Zambia back in the running for 2018!

A fellow Tarheel, @MikeNC and I had been speaking about going somewhere together this year. The hard part was finding an outfit and area that could suit both of our desired wish lists. Strang and I discussed hunting in the Luangwa for the DG and some PG, then heading to his ranch closer to Livingston for the rest of the PG. Well like I said, I left his booth with the thought of I could be visiting the Luangwa Valley this year, it was a real possibility!!
After speaking with @MikeNC about it, and weighing our options in Zim, we decided on making a bucket list destination happen! I spoke with Strang a few more times while he was still in the US, and booked the hunt in early February.

Primary targets for me included hippo, croc, bushbuck (my nemesis), puku, Lichtenstein hartebeest, and sable

Hunting partners was buff, puku, hartebeest, impala, kudu, zebra, and warthog

After 6 1/2 months, it was wheels up time on July 17, all 36+ hours of it to get to our destination in the Valley. Flew from NC to JFK, then on SAA to Joburg then to Lusaka. From there it was Pro flight Zambia to Mfuwe, then a 5 hour drive to camp. We were scheduled for up to 7 days in the Valley, 4-5 days on Strang's place, and 1-2 in the falls all depending on how the front end of the hunt went for us.

Here are a few pics of the Valley from the sky coming in the first night, as well as the Lusaka and Mfuwe airports.... more to come
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CAustin

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Alright you started!
 

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Been looking forward to this! :A Popcorn:
 

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Oh am i excited to FINALLY start to read and see pictures of this!!!
 

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Day 1...

Since we got into camp about 10 pm and to sleep about midnight the previous night, we "sleep in" till about 6:30/7:00. Up for a nice breakfast of eggs and real American style bacon. Certainly wasn't expecting that this far out here! Its a overcast morning, Strang says its rained a little bit each of the last two days and looks like we could get some today. The temp is very pleasant, high 50's or so, but would warn up to the 70's or low 80's once the sun came out later. The camp is right on the Luangwa river, beautiful setting. Here are a few pics of the river view day 1 and some of camp. The first few pics are the view from the eating area!

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cpr0312

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Strang sends one of the camp staff and one of the trackers our early around 6:30 to go"find" a Zambia parks/wildlife ranger to accompany us on the hunt. After breakfast we go to take a few shots with the rifles to make sure all is good. I will use Strang's .375, or Mike;s CZ .375 during the trip. Mike also brought a Remington 30-06. All rifles are dead on, that's a good start! Especially after all the travel getting here. We get back to camp about 9 and no ranger. We sit around and watch some impala and lechwe on the sandbar across the river for a while. We then get in the truck to go look for the ranger. Well about 11:00 another truck comes up behind us, its the guys with a ranger, now we can proceed with the hunt, off for hippo!

Lots of tracks and hippo everywhere
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:A Popcorn:
 

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Hippo tracks.......oh joy!
 

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You have chosen a nice bag of trophies, but for the “puku” which I have no clue. Sounds like something my grandkids said when about 2.
Hippo! Hippo! We want hippo!
 

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Yeah lots of hippo tracks, and a few larger creatures as well!!! Saw elephant every day!!!


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Ok onto the hippo grounds... We get to a portion of the river where hippo always congregate. There are 3 different pods totaling at least 50-60 hippo, and one further downstream with probably another 25 more. We get out and walk the bank back and forth looking for older bulls. Strang picks out 2 each in two of the pods. We go back and forth with hippo closely watching us, grunting and blowing. Which by the way hearing the hippo grunt/barks or whatever you want to call it is damn cool!!! We sit on one pod but they are getting a little perturbed with us and continue to inch further away.

We back out and go sit on the other pod. We get as close as we can without them getting to upset. They settle in, we settle in... battle lines drawn. Hippo talking to us and barking constantly, really cool. Only wish I had my GoPro turned on at that point (n)

We pick out the bull and Strang talks me through everything. We are sitting down in the sand about 10 yards from the waters edge, the hippo are probably 50 yards into the river. We sit and wait, and wait, and wait for a clear shot. It has been about 90 minutes in the sun, and even thought its not hot out thankfully, the sun is starting to bake us. I'm on my butt sitting up, rifle on the sticks for about 1 hour. In that time there have been at least 3 almost a shot instances. I've had to be excited and calm down many times now. So I figure I've got the excitement out and I'll be able to make a ice water in veins shot when it presents itself. Anyways on shot opportunity #4, the normal buck fever strikes again, but hey I wouldn't have it any other way, at least I know I'm enjoying the moment.

In all this time, I have however become comfortable with the seating arrangement and have been able to look at where the shot needs to go through the scope multiple times. So when its go time, I'll know exactly where to hold. Now cows are moving back and forth constantly and his head is in view sporadically. Finally he is all clear and its go time!!!!!!!!!

Breathe, release, breathe.. release, one more time breathe release...and squeeze! Bang hippo everywhere, what happened, shot felt good and solid. I look at the trackers and Strang and its all smiles.. whew.
No sign of the hippo thrashing around or anything like that. Its now 1:30, and he wont float for a few hours. even though everyone says dead hippo, I still will be a wreck for a few hours. Ok time to head back to camp for lunch..

Well thats what we thought, we were in for a big surprise... To be continued
 

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That wait(for the hippo to float) has to be excruciating! Can't wait to hear the rest!
 

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And the nervous worrisome tension builds! And...?
 

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To be continued??? How long??? :A Banana Sad:
 

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To be continued??? How long??? :A Banana Sad:

If I know Charles he is going to string this along for a little while. But the story is a good one so far!
 

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